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Tales from the Pandemic

 Everyone has a story about how this pandemic has affected them. Many are sad, but some are so absurd that the only thing you can do is laugh. As things have begun to loosen up around here, I’ve become more aware of these absurdities. Because of the three-person limit at Ace Hardware, the line stretched out down the block and it was impossible to get in. I love Ace Hardware, I love the people that work there, I love the little discounts you get in the mail, they always have what you need. But during the three-person limit, it was a better bet to drive to Lowe’s near Kings Plaza. Or so I thought.

First thing I need is bird seed. Birds don’t know it’s a pandemic, they simply want their seed. So, after looking around and not finding any, I ask a store employee where the bird seed is? The reply is “some bags ripped, so we put it away.” Ok, I say, can I get some? No, says the employee, it’s away. Hmmm, I guess away means, sorry mister, no bird seed for you today.

I also needed paint for the basement. After Sandy, we simply painted the basement walls and floor. The basement needs a new coat of paint now, so I asked an employee in the paint section, what kind of paint do I get? The answer is immediate: “Basement paint.” Great, is that on a label? “No sir just pick out what color you want.” Huh?

So, on a drive back to the neighborhood, I see no line in front of Ace! I walk in and they explain that they have expanded to a six-person rule. Wonderful! Do you have seed, “yes, of course.” Fantastic! Do you have paint for a basement? A series of questions about the type of walls and floors I have leads us to the exact right paint! I love Ace!

Then I thought, I need some comfort food, so I go into a local store that will remain nameless. They have a three-person limit too and since there are only two people in the store, I walk in. One of the customers is talking to the person behind the counter, noticing that they are busy and could use help, and asks “Aren’t there others to help?” Well, the counter person explains that the owner’s husband is sick and is home tending to him; the others who would normally come in, aren’t coming in because the owner’s husband is sick, and they don’t want to get sick either. The counter person explains there is another employee in the back and that person is too sick to come out and help, “I’d tell them to go home but I’m not the boss.” Hmmm, takes me about three seconds to make my way right out the door! Really!

My Dad is 92 and is religious about three things: sports, going to doctors and, well, religion. So, when his cardiologist rescheduled his March appointment for May, he figured all was good to go. I normally drive him to Methodist Hospital in Park Slope and parking is ridiculous there. I park in the lot across the street and then meet him on the second floor of the hospital. But these are different times. I ask Dad, did you confirm the appointment? No, Dad tells me “They rescheduled it so it must be good.”

Ok then, take your cell phone and call me if they aren’t allowing visitors in. So, I park the car, go in the hospital– by the way the last place you want to be in a pandemic is a hospital– and sure as hell they don’t let me in. So, I call Dad, but apparently, he hasn’t turned the phone on! Oh bother, really, come on.

Forty-five minutes later, he comes down and says I wouldn’t believe it, he was the only person there, and was in and out in record time. Why didn’t I come up? Dad, they aren’t allowing visitors, why didn’t you turn your phone on? He tells me he didn’t want to bother me. Trust me, you can’t make this stuff up.

In Rockaway, mostly everyone wears a mask, people get it. On a recent trip into the city, upper east siders are all wearing masks, they definitely get it. A drive along the Belt Parkway in Bay Ridge shows most walkers by the bay have masks on, but below their chins. I guess they are trying, but not too hard. A ride through the streets of Williamsburg reveals that no one there is wearing a mask at all. I guess they don’t care.

As I ride around, listening to 1010 WINS news, Cuomo says the beaches are open in New York State. DeBlasio says not in New York City. Nassau County says don’t come to our beaches NYC people. Oh boy, Robert Moses would love this!! Then DeBlasio says he’s buying 74,000 air conditioners for the poor for the summer. An average price of an air conditioner is maybe $500 so that means he is spending $37 million dollars on air conditioners to give away because he won’t open the beaches. Then he says he is giving away 300,000 iPads. I don’t know what they cost but if they cost $500 each, that’s $ 150 million dollars because he closed the schools and needs to have people do e-learning. Forget about the fact that an iPad doesn’t work unless you have a network connection. All this while the city and state face unprecedented budget deficits!

Oh well, just another day in the pandemic neighborhood!! Stay safe, well and healthy. And keep laughing, it’s the only way to get through this mess.

By Lou Pastina


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